At least 400,000 dosages of CoronaVac vaccines have arrived this morning from China, the second batch sent by Beijing.
The vaccines arrived at 7:17am on board Philippine Airlines flight PR361, and were welcomed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.
The first batch of the Sinovac-made vaccines donated by China, 600,000 dosages in total, arrived in the country late in February. Duque said in a statement that he was “grateful” that China sent another batch of CoronaVac.
“The arrival of these vaccines could not have occurred at a more opportune time considering the continued rise in cases, which in turn increases the need to inoculate more high-risk individuals as soon as possible,” the controversial health secretary said.
Ambassador Xilian told reporters that he was “happy” with the arrival of the donations.
“We hope we will contribute to speeding up the mass vaccination in the country so that you will win over the war against the virus and recover the economy at an early date,” he told the media.
Not everyone appears to be grateful, however. Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the vaccines were Beijing’s way to make up for its military incursion into the contested West Philippine Sea.
Beijing has built structures all over the disputed area, which Manila maintains is part of Philippine territory. However, President Rodrigo Duterte has been hesitant to call out Beijing for its trespass, leading to allegations that he is the Chinese Communist Party’s lapdog. An international tribunal has already ruled in favor of Manila in its dispute against Beijing over the area, but Duterte has refused to enforce the ruling, saying that doing so will lead to war.
“We cannot be seen as getting aid from China and just allowing China to seize our maritime zones,” Carpio, one of Duterte’s most vocal critics, said in an interview with the news program Headstart.
“If we protest the Chinese incursion of our maritime zones, it would appear we’re like ungrateful because China has given us vaccines. We should not allow ourselves to be placed in this situation. We should have the option to get vaccines from other sources, from those who do not seek to encroach on our maritime zones,” the former Supreme Court justice said.
This article, From ‘BFF’ China: 400,000 donated Sinovac vaccines arrive in Manila, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.